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Better luck at Inter-Varsity

Date Released: Sun, 12 August 2012 08:00 +0200

Rhodes University rugby team's hopes may have been dashed when the side lost their semifinal match during the University Sport South Africa (USSA) competition last week, but they aren't letting this stumbling block get them down. "We are disappointed but the future of Rhodes rugby looks good," said Rhodes rugby coach Qondakele Sompondo.


Rhodes won their first match in the USSA tournament when they beat Mangosuthu University of Technology 32-9. This win saw Rhodes book their spot in the semi-final of the C Section of the competition. They needed to win this section in order to take part in the play-off match for a spot in the B Section. All B Section teams take part in the Varsity Shield and A Section teams play in the Varsity Cup. After leading 20-5 at halftime against North West University-Vaal in the semi-final, Rhodes lost the match 23-31.


"Experience really counted against us because we were playing against a very old bunch of players," Sompondo said. In their last USSA match Rhodes came up against Walter Sisulu University-Buffalo. Rhodes won 31-21. This saw the Grahamstown university side finish third out of eight teams in the C Section. "After our game against WSU-Buffalo, I realised just how much we have achieved as a team in a short space of time. We only started working together mid-April," Sompondo said. He added that the rugby side wanted to conquer the USSA "not only because there was an opportunity to play Varsity Shield rugby, but to come and make a statement that Rhodes rugby is positioning itself as the force it once was."


"Today, I'm a very proud man because we have achieved our objective. We may not have been able to attain Varsity Shield status but we won two out of the three games we played and played some amazing and entertaining rugby. This with an average age of 21 in the team." Sompondo said the same group is expected to lead Rhodes rugby "for the next two or three years". The side will now begin preparing for the Eastern Province Rugby Union's Adams Cup Competition and Inter-Varsity, which Rhodes is hosting this year, from 17 to 18 August.


"This would be a wonderful opportunity to showcase to the Rhodes community and people of Grahamstown just how much the team has grown and developed since the beginning of the year" Rhodes will get another opportunity to qualify for the Varsity Shield in the 2014 USSA tournament. Rhodes first team captain Justin McDougall said of the competition: "In terms of building Rhodes rugby, this tour was a very successful one". "I would be lying if I told you that the side isn't disappointed after the loss to NWUVaal, especially after all the hard work and being in such a dominant position at half-time (20-5) to lose that game really hurt the side. "


I think the lack of experience was the biggest factor in this loss, considering our oldest player turned 23 just this year, and the NWU-Vaal side's youngest player was probably 23 or older" McDougall was positive that they could succeed where they had failed and can make it into the Varsity Shield next time around. KEEN TO WIN... Rhodes University's first rugby side won their game in the University Sport South Africa tournament against Walter Sisulu University's Buffalo team last week. They lost in the the C Section final against North West University-Vaal, but plan to make their comeback at the upcoming Inter-Varsity competition in April. Photo: Supplied